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What is a Wall Furnace?

By Amy Hunter
Updated May 16, 2024
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A wall furnace is a compact heating system for the home. The wall furnace is a permanent heating system, as opposed to electric or kerosene heaters, which are temporary heating solutions. It is a self-contained furnace, attached to the wall, and vented to the outside.

The wall furnace works by providing heat directly into the room where it is located. The heat is provided by a pilot light and adjustable flame. Fuel for the heating system is typically propane or natural gas. There are two different ways that the fuel is provided to the consumer. In some cases the heating fuel is contained in a storage tank on the homeowner’s property. A delivery truck provides a service to the consumer by routinely delivering fuel to the storage tank, with the homeowner paying for each delivery.

Fuel may also be provided through fuel lines that run from a central line and is measured through a meter. An employee of the fuel company visits the meter each month and records the amount of fuel that has passed through the line. The homeowner receives a bill monthly based on the amount of fuel they have used.

A wall furnace makes an excellent heating choice in an older home that does not contain ductwork, which is necessary for many types of heating systems. For older homes that do not contain ductwork, the expense of adding this ductwork can greatly increase the cost of installing a new heating system.

A wall furnace allows the homeowner to update their heating unit to a warmer and more efficient heating system without facing huge remodeling bills. There are some cautions with these heating systems however. If you choose this type of heater, read all installation instructions carefully before installing the furnace.

Wall furnaces burn natural gas or propane, which are combustible fuels. The byproduct of the heat provided by these furnaces is carbon monoxide. The wall furnace that you purchase must be vented. The instructions included with your wall furnace should provide detailed instructions on how it should be vented or, if it is self-vented, what you should look for as a warning sign that the furnace may not work properly.

If you are uncomfortable with the wall furnace installation, contact your local fuel provider or fire department. Often they will make arrangements to visit your home and check that the installation was done properly. As added insurance, purchase a carbon monoxide detector for each bedroom as well as the room where the heater is located.

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Discussion Comments
By irontoenail — On Jan 01, 2012

Another thing you might want to add if you have a furnace is a variation of the "wet-back" water heating system.

These were traditionally heated by the wood stove or fireplace, but they can be fitted to a furnace just as well. This helps to keep your water bills down since, if you have the furnace on anyway, it might as well be heating your water supply as well.

If you don't have the furnace going very often then it might not be worth the added initial expense, but it's something to consider when you are thinking about putting a furnace in.

By browncoat — On Dec 31, 2011

@pleonasm - People don't really have to worry about that if they keep their furnace in good condition. They should have detectors, though, I agree but otherwise it should be fine.

It's in older systems which have not been kept in good condition that you have to worry. If you are buying an old house with a furnace I would definitely get an expert to check it out.

In fact I've heard that a faulty furnace might be one of the factors behind so-called "haunted" houses.

If you are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, of course you will be feeling strange in certain rooms, for what seems like no reason (considering that the gas is odorless and tasteless). Add the confusion to that, and a spooky looking house and I can well imagine "ghosts" seeming to appear.

By pleonasm — On Dec 30, 2011

It is a really good idea to make sure you have that carbon monoxide detector in every room if you have this kind of furnace. Carbon monoxide is impossible to detect except through symptoms of poisoning and unfortunately, unless you really know what to look for, you could brush off the symptoms as the flu.

One of the symptoms is also confusion which makes it even more difficult.

And, unfortunately, carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the most common forms of accidental gas deaths in the States so it really is worth making sure you are going to be one of them if you have a furnace.

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